Remarks of Past President George G. Horiates, Esq. presented on Saturday evening, March 21, 2015 at the Dignitaries Banquet of the Federation of Hellenic Societies of Philadelphia and Greater Delaware Valley on the Occasion of Greek Independence Day
Your Eminence Metropolitan Evangelos, The Honorable Neofitos Constantinou, Distinguished Honorees Drs. Spiros and Amalia Spireas, Distinguished Honorees George and Zoe Kousoulis, Officers and members of Philadelphia’s esteemed Federation of Hellenic Societies, distinguished guests, reverend clergy, family, and friends:
We are here tonight on the eve of the 194th anniversary of Greek Independence from Ottoman rule, an independence of a people whose roots were and are uniquely historic.
Against that rule for centuries, Greece was subjected to many things, principally, religious intolerance. Tonight’s theme, and the honorees themselves, remind us and the world- in a flash forward – that extremism and religious intolerance and the persecution of Christians remains today.
We are here tonight in remembrance of Danielle Kousoulis, a member of St. Thomas Greek Orthodox Church, whose cultural center now bears her name. Danielle’s promising life was cut short on September 11th, 2001. Terrorists flew jet airliners into the World Trade Center and the date itself is now a permanent worldwide sacred day of remembrance.
Those attacks took 2,974 lives. 246 victims were on the four planes from which there were no survivors, 125 victims were at the Pentagon, and a staggering 2,606 victims were in or near the Trade Center towers in New York City. Over 1,400 9/11 rescue workers have died since the 9/11 attacks. Another 1,140 responders have since been diagnosed with cancer.
Your Eminence, for all of them and their families, I ask we stand together, and with our honorees, for a moment of silence.
It is against the backdrop of this attack and these tragedies that we honor the memory of Danielle.
This weekend we have highlighted and share the Good News of the groundbreaking and rebuilding of a new St. Nicholas at Ground Zero. It will be a national shrine of our Holy Archdiocese and a place of pilgrimage for the whole world.
We ask all of you to raise our consciousness to this sacred cause of rebuilding out of the ashes. We have a fundraiser in November , churches throughout our Metropolis are also having fund raisers. Give. Show the Kousoulis family that the Delaware Valley Greek community stands by this family.
We pray together, laugh together and cry together. That makes us a family. That is what makes us all a family with George and Zoe Kousoulis.
There is a biography in your program on Danielle. It is a moving tribute, taken from the biography written in bronze at the Danielle Kousoulis Greek Center at Saint Thomas in Cherry Hill. As I look at this wonderful piece that many of us have read again and again, tonight I cannot recite it to you because that does not do Danielle justice.
It doesn’t do any justice because Danielle was a star. A Vice President at Cantor Fitzgerald, executive in the World Trade Center, a rising star in the hub of the economic world and in the world’s capital. She was only 29 years of age and she rose to be literally and figuratively on top of the world.
Danielle was what you want your child to be. She was what you want your daughter to be. I can see her talking to a crowd amongst her community, like tonight. I can see her speaking at a Greek School graduation ceremony. I can see her being a role model for our youth. Particularly I can see her mentoring young women in the Greek community. It is this brilliance that was taken away not only from her family, but from all of us as a family.
As we celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation and the Day of Greek Independence, we see the truth, power, and grace of God’s revelation as the inspiration for our forbearers who began the struggle for independence.
Tonight and always, our inspiration is knowing that ultimate victory over oppression, hatred, and violence will endure as we stand beside the Kousoulis family in honor of Danielle.
For these reasons, and for many more, it is an honor to introduce to you as our Honorary Grand Marshals of the 2015 Philadelphia Greek Independence Day Parade, George and Zoe Kousoulis, the parents of Danielle.